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Planning Begins for Professional Bass Tournament at Lake Lanier

Tuesday, July 3, 2007  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774

Pro-Am set for Nov. 1, Dates for Pro Tournament will be announced soon

LAKE LANIER ISLANDS, Georgia – Governor Sonny Perdue and the Professional Anglers Association (PAA) this morning announced that initial planning has begun to bring a professional bass fishing tournament to Georgia’s Lake Lanier Islands. Called the Go Fish Georgia Professional Anglers Association Championship, the tournament is expected to draw the top bass anglers in the country. As part of the championship, Lake Lanier will also host the Governor’s Go Fish Georgia Pro/Am Tournament, which is scheduled for November 1, 2007. PAA is exploring the opportunity to hold the professional tournament later this fall or in early 2008.

“This tournament is exactly what I envisioned as part of the Go Fish Georgia initiative,” said Governor Perdue. “It will generate excitement about fishing in Georgia, encourage families to spend time together outdoors and provide a positive economic impact for the state and the local community. I would love to see this tournament become an annual event in Georgia.”

Governor Perdue, PAA Executive Director Gene Ellison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Noel Holcomb and Lake Lanier Islands representative Virgil Williams met with Georgia business leaders this morning to discuss the proposed tournament and how it complements the Go Fish Georgia initiative announced by Governor Perdue in his State of the State Address in January. Tom Mann, Jr., Mark Davis and Mike Auten, three of the nation’s top pro anglers, were also in attendance.

“The Go Fish Georgia Professional Anglers Association Championship will be a first-class event that will bring great awareness to the initiative and will promote Georgia’s outstanding natural resources. The PAA is excited about the chance to establish this landmark event on Lake Lanier, the most famous spotted bass fishery in the world,” Gene Ellison said.

PAA is committed to supporting fisheries projects underway through state fish and wildlife agencies as well as children’s charities. As part of the tournament commitment, PAA announced that an event with a $1 million purse would include a $250,000 donation to DNR for the Go Fish Georgia initiative as well as $50,000 to the Catch A Dream Foundation, a national children’s charity devoted to granting outdoor wishes to terminally ill children.

The Go Fish Georgia initiative is designed to establish Georgia as a national fishing destination by improving the quality of fishing in Georgia waters, improving access to lakes and rivers for fishing in Georgia and increasing participation through promotion and marketing of Georgia’s exceptional fishing resources. Plans call for the development of a Go Fish Georgia Visitors Center and Hatchery and a bass fishing trail that will include large mega ramps capable of accommodating large fishing tournaments.

Since 1996 when the first made-for-television tournament aired, the sport has grown rapidly. Fishing now ranks as the fifth most popular sport in the nation. According to the 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-associated Recreation, conducted by the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Commerce and the Fish and Wildlife Service, about one in every six U.S. residents 16 and older fish. Resident and non-resident anglers in Georgia currently spend $569 million each year with an estimated $1.5 billion in economic impact.

“We look forward to working with the Professional Anglers Association to make this a very successful tournament that brings in the top professional anglers, gets Georgians excited about fishing in our state, benefits the local economy and puts Georgia on the map as a fishing destination for vacation travelers,” said Noel Holcomb. “Lake Lanier is the perfect venue to accomplish all of these things.”